NOPAL Cultural - "Inspired by the love of Latino arts and culture."

11055324_824921917586630_1536683410305761051_n.jpgEduardo Luna is one of the founders of NOPAL Cultural, one of the organizations behind the Purpose Park in the Hawthorne Neighborhood. His passion for community and the Latino-American heritage is inspiring. Eduardo was kind enough to answer some questions about NOPAL Cultural, with hopes to spread the word about this awesome community organization, and hopefully inspire others to follow his lead.

What inspired you to create NOPAL Cultural, and when did you start the organization? NOPAL Cultural is a multicultural arts organization that seeks to enhance Latino-American arts in Indianapolis; formed by Daniel del Real, Nicole Martinez-LeGrand, and myself in December 2012. This group was inspired by our love of the Latino arts and culture.

What has been the most impacting part of your experience with NOPAL? We have had many moments when we have felt that we were creating opportunities for our culture to be exposed, and it has been well received by the Indianapolis community. We have received many complements from the participants and the people attending NOPAL Cultural events. We were very proud of our feature event—Day de los Muertos.  It takes many partnerships and lots of volunteers to pull off, but we view each relationship as an opportunity for outreach and education about the cultural roots of the celebration and the contemporary experiences of Latino-Americans as it relates to the holiday. While many volunteers came to the project with misconceptions about Day of the Dead, that it is spooky, because of its proximity to Halloween, each participant came away with the understanding that Day of the Dead really is a celebration.

What are the long-term goals for the organization? To create many good partnerships with local organizations, and also work together with them to create a stronger multicultural community.

Approximately how many people participate in the organization activities? Between what ages? We don’t have a physical space; we originally chose the name NOPAL Cultural Center because that is our idea. Eventually, we will have a center; at the moment we have changed our name to NOPAL Cultural. We operate by building partnerships with organizations in the community while working together to host cultural events. Most of our events are for all ages and family friendly, sometimes we have 21 and over music shows at local music venues. We don’t keep track of how many people have attended our events. Some events are very intimate with only 5-10 participants, while others are very broad with hundreds of attendees.

What has been your involvement in Purpose Park? Our involvement has been limited during the construction phase; we will start working with Danny Marquez to create cultural programming for the park now that the space is ready for visitors.

How do you feel Purpose Park will impact your community? Purpose Park will be an important element in our neighborhood. People living near the park will feel proud of having a space that they can call their own and share it with each other. We hope this brings a sense of community.

What has been your involvement with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful? I personally have gone to some meetings with Joe Jarzen and Bob Neary. At this stage of the Purpose Park, Danny Marquez, the head of ENGINE Initiative, has taken a lead role to make this possible with the help of the Catholic Workers of Indianapolis and neighbors.

Who has inspired you the most to do all that you do for your community and why? My wife, Emma Mahern, because she is always working on something that benefits the community.

For more information about NOPAL Cultural check out their Facebook.